When muralist and Austin native Briar Bonifacio first met Cheer Up Charlie’s owner Tamara Hoover, they were working at a Daily Juice together. “She told me she was going to open up a little spot,” says Bonifacio. “She had seen my art and she wanted me to design it.”
His bright and colorful pieces helped define the fun, quirky vibe of Cheer Up’s original East Sixth Street locale, and when the bar moved to Red River in early 2014, Bonifacio’s art became a fixture there, too. His newest mural at the bar features two of his cartoonish-like “characters” including “Wasabi,” a pale green blob-shaped face floating on a cherry red background.
True to his style, his latest work is both skillful and playful, and brings to life the characters he has been creating since childhood. “I found some doodles from when I was three, and they look so similar to what I’m doing now,” says Bonifacio. “It was really weird to find those.”
In high school, Bonifacio and his friends used to skate around, sharing a can of spray paint and creating street art all over Austin. Now, Bonifacio is in charge of restoring Daniel Johnston’s mural, “Hi, How Are You,” whenever someone spray paints over it. He laughs about the fact that it’s pretty much the antithesis of his high school hobby.
Bonifacio’s work has been shown in New York, San Francisco and even Hong Kong, and he has a show up this summer at the Little Pink Monster Gallery in Canopy Studios. But his preferred medium is still outdoors — especially on the east side, where he has been hanging since his childhood. “I’m not competing with an interior,” he explains of his outdoor murals, “I can do what I want.”
For a complete list on where to find Bonifacio’s public art, click here.
by Joanna Steblay
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